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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Protection for Roses’

1.-Winter-Protection

Rose Beds Hilled Up in Chutes’ Rose Garden

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone (it was early this year) and we’ve experienced some below freezing temperatures, it’s time to add winter protection to help our roses survive our New England winters.

The goal of winter protection is to keep roses dormant — not to keep them warm. What we want to do is just the opposite: make sure the rose bushes stay cold and not be fooled into thinking spring has arrived when we experience those warm days in late January when temperatures go up to the 40’s and mid 50’s.

2-Planting

Plant roses with bud union 2″ below soil level in southern New England

Adding winter protection to roses is easy but there are 2 factors to be aware of if you want your roses to come through the winter with little winter kill: First, make sure your roses are zone appropriate for your area. If they’re not, they don’t have a good chance of surviving the winter freeze and thaw cycles. Second, plant them properly. In southern New England budded roses need to be planted at least 2” below the soil in order to protect the bud union. In colder climates they should be planted deeper and in warmer climates higher.

If your roses are winter hardy and planted properly, follow these easy steps:

  1. Wait until after the first hard frost before adding winter protection.
  2. Give roses a light pruning and secure long canes so they will not be tossed around by winter storms and damage the bush.
  3. Rake up garden litter to prevent diseases from wintering over in fallen foliage.
  4. This is a good time to apply lime, if necessary.
  5. Using soil, manure, compost or seaweed, hill up the base of each rose to about 12 inches.
3-Hilled-Up-Bush

Winter Protection at base of rose bush

If you want to know more about planting roses and winter protection, you can find more detailed information in our book Roses for New England: A Guide for Sustainable Rose Gardening which can be purchased on our website: RoseSolutions.net

 

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Polar Roses

Polar Roses

As a native New Englander, I enjoy the four distinct seasons we have and take pleasure in each one. But, I have become very, very weary of this winter. Weary of the snow canyon that my driveway has become and weary of the unusually bitter, subzero cold. And I’m weary of staring at the heavy snow still piled high in the gardens even though I realize that snow provides ideal insulation for roses from the frigid cold and wintery winds we had throughout February.

Snowbound Rose

Snowbound Rose

Meanwhile, I continue my winter morning routine, which includes the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper, marking time until the snow melts enough for me to get started with spring clean-ups. (What is a five letter word for rock debris?) Then comes my favorite early spring activity – spring pruning!

Campfire

Campfire

So, as my gardening mojo rises and as I patiently wait for winter to break, I consider the ambitious plans that Angelina and I have made for the 2015 gardening season. We have settled on several new rose varieties to put in and evaluate: Campfire is a tough little red and yellow blend floribunda from the Morden Experimental Farm in Manitoba Canada. New to the US market, this latest introduction to the Canadian Artists Series is hardy to USDA zone 3. Another is an attractive apricot climber called Della Balfour that we saw last summer in the garden of our friends, Dacia and Clive. I’ll grow Della as bush as we have no room for another climber. The last variety on this season’s wish-list is David Austin’s The Lady Gardener, a fragrant, pure apricot shrub rose new in 2015. (See photo in previous post.)

Della Balfour

Della Balfour

Because of our success last year with sunflowers, garlic, and assorted vegetables, Angelina and I have selected more seeds to plant this spring with an eye towards the creation of a cottage garden. Along with three varieties of sunflowers, each a different height, we’ll add larkspur and aubretia. We had seen great clusters of purple/blue aubretia growing in Ireland last May both as cultivated plants as well as feral flowers sprouting from nooks, cracks, and crannies everywhere. Larkspur is an annual form of delphinium and our plan is to sprinkle seeds in the middle of the bed and see how that works out as companions to roses. Add a small veggie bed with two tomato plants, two eggplants and two rows of string beans planted along side a small bed of hard neck garlic planted last October. Eclectic gardening for sure.

Aubretia in Adare, Ireland

Aubretia in Adare, Ireland

More plans include a full garden restoration in 2015 – a major project – as well as a trip to Seattle and Vancouver this spring. We’re even are thinking ahead to 2016 and a journey by car throughout France into Belgium and The Netherlands.
It’s a good thing we have the perfect journal, Rose Gardening Season by Season: A Journal for Passionate Gardeners, to keep track of everything we have planned.
(A five letter word for rock debris? Why Scree, of course.)

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Pomham Light & ducks

Pomham Light & ducks

Mike and I like to walk along the East Bay Bike Path. Our favorite section takes us past the Pomham Lighthouse in the Providence River where it meets Narragansett Bay. We often stop to observe big oil tankers and barges being unloaded at the Mobil terminal and especially enjoy watching the tugboats as they chug out into the bay to meet the ships. It’s amazing to watch two little tugs nudge a giant ocean-going vessel loaded with oil ever-so-gently into the dock.

Snowy Path

Snowy Path

At this time of year we mostly have the Bike Path to ourselves. This was the case a few days ago, the day before this year’s first snowstorm. Ours were only the second set of footprints in the fallen snow. The air was cold, the sky was gray and there was a mist that obscured the shoreline across the river. We saw a great flock of ducks bobbing all together in the water in the lee of a small island away from the direction of the wind. They seemed to know that bad weather was coming and had hunkered down. The lighthouse made a picturesque backdrop to the scene.

We were covered with snow by the time we returned to the car and my hands, despite fleece gloves were cold, but this walk, I knew, had to last us a while, since the forecast predicted 8-12 inches of snow and the path would soon be impassable.

Flash forward to the day after the storm, – 9 degrees. Mike’s outside clearing the snow, the birds have finally discovered our bird feeders, our roses have a natural protective layer of snow that will help keep them dormant when the temperature rises in a few days and I’m inside keeping warm, wondering how long we’ll have to wait until we can walk the bike path again.

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Good as Gold

Good as Gold

Today is the winter solstice, the day with the least amount of daylight in the year. Starting tomorrow, the amount of daily sunshine will start to increase, imperceptibly at first, unnoticeable until late in January during the coldest part of the year.

Hilled up Rose

Hilled up Rose

The winter solstice is the official end of my gardening season. The gardens have been winterized – each rose lightly pruned and hilled up with a foot or so of horse manure. The potted roses have been gathered together into a large, open-topped wooden crib covered with leaves that allow rain and snow-melt to percolate through. (The winter protection in the garden as well as the cribs serves to keep roses dormant until late March avoiding premature loss of dormancy during mid-winter freeze/thaw cycles.)  The long canes of large shrub roses and climbers have been trimmed or pegged and transplanting is complete.

Crib with Potted Roses

Crib with Potted Roses

It’s done! Whew.

Each year I tell myself that I will start this process sooner and be done sooner but I never am and it’s always after Thanksgiving before it’s complete.

Looking back at this past season, I’m reminded again that all gardens are dynamic entities, always changing in some way all the time. I like to have a hand in this natural morphing and, for the first time in several years, I replaced a large number of varieties in the back garden last May. Since one rose has to go before another rose can be planted, I put in 16 new varieties and said good bye to a few old favorites that were past their prime as well as some others that had worn out their welcome. Of them all, the big surprise was a new hybrid tea named Good as Gold that I planted with some reluctance since I am phasing hybrid teas out of the gardens altogether. But this variety was new and I was very curious about its color. And what color it was – a true gold with peachy undertones.

Tree Coming Down

Tree Coming Down

The biggest change, though, came from the loss of a very large maple tree that provided shade for both our home and gardens. It was damaged in Super Storm Sandy and had to be removed in November last year. This summer, as expected, the rose garden was infused with morning sunshine that it never had before and responded with robust growth and bloomed almost a week earlier than it has in the past. Plus the insidious invasion of nutrient-robbing tree roots into the rose garden finally ceased. That was the good news. The bad news was the totally unexpected intense mid-afternoon heat that blasted our once-cool shady patio. When temps hit 113F in mid July, it was time for an awning which was installed a month later. I sweat just thinking about it.

New Awning

New Awning

Bud Grafting Workshop

Bud Grafting Workshop

Each season brings its own special pleasures. I love opening the gardens in the chilly, very bright sunshine of early spring, then watching them grow like crazy in May and explode into bloom in June. I look forward to the annual bud grafting workshop in August after the second flush. Then autumn roses with their extra bright colors blossom in September, this third bloom cycle is the swan song for the year.

Now it’s over for 2013 and Angelina and I are looking forward, as we always do, to four months off to get ready for next season. We have plenty to do in the meantime with a busy calendar of lectures scheduled for 2014 plus a trip to Ireland in May.

So, on this “shortest” day of the year, as one season quietly slips away, I look towards the next and all its inherent change, expected and otherwise, with the same grand anticipation as I do every year. It never gets old.

Happy Holidays.

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Christmas is next week and the winter solstice is a few days away. The days are short and temperatures are sharply colder. Our gardens have been winterized and the roses are sound asleep with visions of blue ribbons dancing in their bud unions. The season is over.

The older I get the faster seasons go by – 2011 came and went in a blink. And as much as I enjoy rose gardening, by this time each year I’m ready for a few months off.

Rose Crib

I started closing our gardens in mid-November by packing the potted roses closely together in cribs where they spend the winter. By Thanksgiving, our garden roses were completely dormant even though they didn’t look it. I lightly prune them, leaving heavy pruning until spring. I broadcast an application of lime on each bed – rain and snow will wash it in.

Then I waited…and waited…and waited for consistently cold weather before I hilled up each rose with 12 inches or so of horse manure, finally getting my chance last week. This winter cover will ensure that all roses remain dormant during freeze/thaw cycles that occur in January and February as well as providing an important organic amendment to garden soil next spring.

Raking leaves is another story – an end-of-season ritual that I do not enjoy. In years past, it took me two long weekends of raking and bending and bagging all the leaves on the property, leaving me tired and weary.  This year, instead of discarding all the oak and maple leaves, I shredded them and made compost. I was amazed at how much easier it was to process leaves as compost rather than as a waste product. More on this experiment later this winter.

Each season is different from all past seasons. Plants never behave the way they’re supposed to. New roses get planted and old ones get the boot. Maybe a dramatic weather event like a springtime hailstorm or late winter blizzard or a week of drenching rain or a month of hot dry weather happened, affecting the gardens – and us – for the rest of the season. This year it was a heavy fallen branch from a late night wind storm that damaged the garden last June as well as Hurricane Irene in August whose winds literally blew the second bloom cycle away.

But all that is past and now we look towards 2012. We’re excited about a new season of lectures including a return to the Boston Flower Show and an invitation to speak in Manhattan.  Then it’s off to Paris later in the spring.

Angie and I went out this morning and placed a few Christmas decorations in the back rose garden. It was the perfect thing to do.

Merry Christmas.

 Our 2012 lecture schedule is now posted at http://www.rosesolutions.net

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Dortmund in Bloom at Clayton Garden

Mike and I have been cleaning up our rose gardens in preparation for winter. We’ve replaced a few older roses, removed some day lilies, divided and transplanted others, and planted bulbs – daffodils and blue globe onions (allium caeruleum). Our horse manure has been delivered and stored in the back of the garden. Now we’re just waiting until the weather turns consistently colder so we can hill-up the base of each rose bush with the manure as winter cover.

Clayton Sustainable Rose Garden

Meanwhile we’ve attended two Garden Closings — the Chet Clayton Sustainable Rose Garden at the University of RI and the Roger Williams Park’s Victorian Rose Garden in Providence. The schedule for closing these public rose gardens are determined months in advance and it’s very difficult to change dates at the last minute if the weather does not cooperate. In this case, despite the warm weather, the gardens got closed when they did because that’s when the volunteers were available.

Deanne, one of the Project Leaders and Mike

The Chet Clayton Sustainable Rose Garden at the University of RI is maintained by University of Rhode Island Master Gardener volunteers who do a great job taking care of this garden. The Clayton Garden is ending its seventh season and continues to thrive as an excellent example of sustainable rose gardening.

Volunteers Adding Manure

The day of the closing was October 29, the Saturday of the big storm that brought serious early season snow to northern RI and surrounding MA and CT. Still, Master Gardener volunteers came out despite the forecast and, with Mother Nature patiently waiting until we were done, we managed to winterize the garden before the maelstrom roared in that afternoon. As you can see from the photos, the climbers, as well as many of the other roses, were still blooming, flummoxed by the warm temperatures.

Hilled Up rose

On Saturday, November 12 we had a beautiful, sunny day to close the Roger Williams Park’s Victorian Rose Garden in Providence. RI Rose Society members, along with the public (who are always welcome to attend meetings to learn how to care for roses), lightly pruned roses that needed it, filled wheel barrows with horse manure from the Providence Mounted Command horse stables, and hilled up the 500+ roses in the garden.

Mike with Manny "Big Boy" Mendes

At lunchtime, there was plenty of socializing during the “Chili Cook-Off” that’s become an annual event of the Rose Society.

President of RI Rose Society, Dacia Nickerson with Vice President Frank Karikas

The meeting ended with the rose raffle — donated potted roses and other plants (Mike and I brought the daylilies from our garden) plus garden items. Mike won and chose a small climber called Morning Magic.  If you live close enough to Providence, try to join us at Roger Williams Park when we open the garden in April. It’s a lot of fun, the members are friendly, and you’ll learn a lot, not only about rose horticulture, but also how various varieties perform in a public garden that receives no pesticide intervention.

Donated Plants

We plan to winterize our gardens on Thanksgiving weekend – we’re hoping for cold and clear weather.

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